Effects of free-ranging livestock on sympatric herbivores at fine spatiotemporal scales

Rongna Feng, Xinyue Lü, Wenhong Xiao, Jiawei Feng, Yifei Sun, Yu Guan, Limin Feng, James L.D. Smith, Jianping Ge, Tianming Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Context: Livestock grazing is one of the most widespread types of anthropogenic land use, even occurs in many protected areas and has become a threat to wildlife worldwide. Understanding livestock-wildlife interactions is crucial for rare large carnivores conservation. In China, free-ranging cattle within forests degrade the habitat of the tigers (Panthera tigris) and leopards (Panthera pardus), but quantitative assessments of how livestock affect the spatial and temporal use by the major ungulate prey of the two endangered felids are very limited. Objectives: This study aimed to examine the interactions of several sympatric wildlife species with livestock at a fine spatiotemporal scale in a human-dominated forest landscape. Methods: Based on a large-scale camera-trapping data across the China-Russia border, we used N-mixture models, two-species occupancy models and activity pattern overlap to understand the effects of cattle grazing on three ungulate species (sika deer Cervus nippon, wild boars Sus scrofa and roe deer Capreolus pygargus). Results: Spatially, with cattle activity increasing, wild boar and roe deer had different degrees of decline in the intensity of habitat use. Sika deer were displaced as more cattle encroached on forest habitat. Temporally, in the presence of cattle, wild boar and sika deer decreased their activities in the day. In addition, three wild ungulates trend to exhibit lower spatiotemporal overlap with cattle at shared camera sites. Conclusions: Our study shows that wildlife species may reduce the probability of habitat use by spatial avoidance and changing the daily activity patterns. We underscore that fine-scale (i.e. camera-site level) spatiotemporal avoidance is likely a key component of co-occurrence between livestock and the sympatry of competing ungulates inhabiting forest ecosystems. Given prey were depressed, efforts to minimize the livestock disturbance on these species need to be considered to ensure their sustained recoveries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1441-1457
Number of pages17
JournalLandscape Ecology
Volume36
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Daniel Eacker and the anonymous referees for their comments and suggestions that greatly improved our manuscript. This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program (2016YFC0500106) and grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31971539, 31270567, 31700469). This project was carried out with the approval of Chinese National Forestry and grassland Administration and Northeast Tiger Leopard National Park. Non-invasive camera-trapping technology did not involve direct contact with animals. All study was in accordance with the guidelines approved by The American Society of Mammologists.

Funding Information:
We thank Daniel Eacker and the anonymous referees for their comments and suggestions that greatly improved our manuscript. This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program (2016YFC0500106) and grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31971539, 31270567, 31700469). This project was carried out with the approval of Chinese National Forestry and grassland Administration and Northeast Tiger Leopard National Park. Non-invasive camera-trapping technology did not involve direct contact with animals. All study was in accordance with the guidelines approved by The American Society of Mammologists.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.

Keywords

  • Activity pattern
  • Camera trap
  • N-mixture model
  • Northeast China
  • Spatiotemporal overlap
  • Wildlife-livestock interactions

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